Pack of floppies

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Name pack of floppies
Appearance box containing little plastic cards
Base price 300 zm
Weight 0
Material plastic
Monster use Will not be used by monsters.

The pack of floppies is a tool in NetHack: The Next Generation. When unidentified, it appears as a box containing little plastic cards. Geeks start with a pack of floppies in their inventory.

Most roles will have no use for a pack of floppies. However, the computer-savvy—namely, Geeks (and, in Slash'EM Extended and SLASHTHEM, Graduates)—are able to "read" the contents of floppies by applying them. This process allegedly involves looking at the magnetic surface, so it cannot be done if the player is blind. When you "read" the disk, you will see one of six things on it:

Which set of contents you find is randomly selected, not a property of the item, so you are unlikely to get the same message every time you read the floppies. (Possibly these are all on separate disks in the pack, and when you read the pack you select one at random.)

Most of these messages have no other effects. However, if you find "Microsoft Windows 3.1", you "shriek in pain" and become confused for 50-100 turns. If you find "Bill Gates", "You feel horrible", but there is no other effect.

Strategy

Because some scrolls give beneficial effects if read while confused, confusion is sometimes a desirable status, so the pack of floppies can actually be very useful to roles that are able to use it. Just apply it until you come across Windows, read your scroll(s), and then apply a non-cursed unicorn horn to cure the confusion. It can be used as a substitute for a cursed unihorn, with the advantage that there is no risk of unwanted effects like attribute loss or illness (other than 'feeling horrible', which does not affect gameplay).

Artifacts

The pack of floppies is the base item for two quest artifacts, the Nethack Sources and the Master Boot Disk.

The Nethack Sources is the Geek quest artifact, a neutral-aligned pack of floppies that grants searching, ESP, and regeneration while carried. It can be invoked to identify items, presumably by very fast source diving.

The Master Boot Disk is the quest artifact for the Graduate role in Slash'EM Extended and SLASHTHEM, a neutral-aligned pack of floppies that grants reflection while carried and can be invoked for phasing. (The Graduate role comes from a different role also called the Geek, which was renamed to avoid confusion with the NHTNG role.)

  • artilist.h 459, 465
  • artifact.c 1635

Origin

Floppy disks are a dated (1980s-1990s) form of data storage, consisting of circular pieces of a flexible material (hence "floppy disks") on which the data is magnetically recorded. With more efficient storage media such as flash drives and cloud storage available to modern computer users, floppies are now rarely seen, except occasionally on icons for saving files in computer programs, and some present-day computer users have probably never used a floppy disk, or even a computer that has a floppy drive. However, during the early years of NetHack's development, floppy disks would have been a standard medium for storing and exchanging files, including personal copies of the NetHack source and patches, so they appear as part of the starting inventory of the Geek, a tribute to NetHack players.

The name "floppy disks" is somewhat ironic. The flexible disc-shaped component is rarely seen outside of a rigid plastic protective case, from which it is normally never removed; instead, the entire case is slipped into the floppy drive. Thus what are called "floppy disks" are actually stiff and rectangular—hence the "little plastic cards" of the unidentified appearance.

References

  • Slash'EM Extended objects.c line 1368
  • Slash'EM Extended apply.c line 3640